Saturday, August 14, 2010

BIAM Day #2

I am happy to report that so far in my 50K Book in a Month (BIAM) challenge, I am slightly ahead. I wrote about 1700 words yesterday and 1800 today, which puts me ahead of my 1667/day benchmarks. I'm going to gloat a little now, knowing that it will come back to bite me in the ass.

I have managed to sketch out an alpaca-centered idea for this novel. As far as I can tell from my haphazard research on, there aren't any alpaca-centered novels out there. Given how often alpacas are referred to in pop culture (thank you Jon Stewart and Stanley Steemer), I think I really need to fill that hole. :)

that's all for now. Keep writing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Willamette Writers' Conference Wrap-up

I had a blast at the 2010 Willamette Writers' Conference. Actually, it is going on today, too, but for a first timer, I decided to only spend one night away from my family.

I was thinking back, and I don't think I have ever gone to a writers' conference before. Don't know why. I suppose that the reason was that before I didn't think of myself as a working writer. Spending $300 on a conference is a whole different thing than spending that on a job-related conference. I may even see if WOU will reimburse me for the conference fee as faculty development. We'll see.

It's a shame that I didn't go to a writing conference before, because I learned so much and met so many great people at this one. I went to six classes or so, and had four pitch sessions. The surprising news is that, based on my pitches, three of the four agents/editors actually asked to see my work! BOTH books (Liz and Something)! I am honestly flabbergasted. Their asking to see the work is no guarantee that they will actually buy it or agree to represent me, but no one I've mailed or emailed queries to have asked to see more.

One of the classes has convinced me that I need to tweak the beginning of Liz Stratton Closes the Store before I send it to anyone, but I plan to do that today while the baby's asleep. I think in general, I need to work on openings, especially since I am the kind of reader who reads the first page of anything I pick up at the bookstore. If I'm not grabbed by the first page, I put the book down. I should apply that to my own work, no?

The next thing on my writing agenda this summer is to start my novel in a month writing challenge. I just picked up a book at the wwc called Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days. I'm liking it better than the Nano book I've used before.

I have three friends who want to do the BIAM/Nano challenge with me. Any more takers? I'm thinking we'll pop the starting gun on August 13 (Friday) and cross the finish line on September 12 (Sunday), which gives us 30 days. I'll start a Yahoo group for the challenge so we can all cheer each other on.

So, now I should be working on some query letters and writing a prologue for Liz.

Happy writing!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Countdown to WWC

The Willamette Writers' Conference begins tomorrow!

I am dotting some "i's" and crossing some "t's" at the moment including writing/practicing my pitches, making "writing" business cards, and generally organizing myself. (Shouldn't forget to pack clothing. That's important, too.)

I have four pitch sessions scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and I am only nervous about them if I think about all. Today was good for me, though, because I had lunch with my friends who are all at least avid readers; one of them is coming to the writing conference with me. They wanted to hear my pitches, so, amid our 2 year-olds running around the house screaming (mine wet her pants in the middle of my pitch), I told my friends my stories.

Good things about practicing in stressful environments: 1. it really, really forces you to focus, 2. it prepares you for the worst. I can almost guarantee that NO ONE will bust into my pitch sessions to demand that I change her wet underpants. Or, if someone does, I maybe will take up gourmet cooking instead.

On top of that, my friends are really savvy and had some really great suggestions for tightening up my pitches. One suggestion was to begin each pitch with the two-sentence "elevator pitch," instead of giving background to set up the story. That's a big "duh" on my part. It seems so obvious to hook pitch listeners with the pithy one-liner rather than drag them into the boring back story first. They are so right.

Just as a treat for my loyal readers, here are the elevator pitches for the two books I'm trying to sell:

Liz A. Stratton Closes the Store.

The question of which sex would run the world better is an ancient one. But, what if a woman ran for President to end an unpopular war? And accidentally called a sex-strike in the process?


Something is killing livestock and dogs in rural Oregon and leaving a trail of poisonous scales in its wake. When a Fish and Wildlife officer ends up in the hospital after cutting her hand on a scale, a race to find the creature and a cure for its toxin begins.